A red velvet brigandine from the 16th century

Since I had the advantage of being able to take part in not just one but TWO brigandines in the collections at the Livrustkammare, I feel that it would be wrong to withhold you the second, when the first one seemed to be so appreciated.

This brigandine is a supposed to be a war booty from Warsaw 1655-08-30 when the Swedes brought a number of booty home to Sweden. It’s dated to the 16th century. The brigandine consists of a very vivid deep red silk velvet and on the inside there are a large number of overlapping steel plates riveted to the velvet. The plates are small and thin, ca. 3 x 2 cm. They are homogeneous and finely worked. There are also traces of a linen fabric between the velvet and the metal. The rivets that join the plates together are round-headed brass rivets. The brigandine ends at the bottom with cut tabs. The flaps have raw edges and are very coarsely sewn, with what appears to be a yellowish silk thread. The closing device has been on the side of the garment, but this is now missing. The front piece measures in length 64 cm and in width 81 cm.

I only had the opportunity to see the front of the brigandine, the back part was in another box. But since there are pictures taken on this for the database, I have chosen to also include these. Sometimes it turns out that the older pictures can tell that an object has changed a bit over time, even since it was first photographed.

The brigandine deserves a more thorough review later on and there is every reason to return to it. Feel free to collect your questions here in the comments so I can look at it on occasion.

Link to the front in the database and link to the back

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/ Maria

A green velvet brigandine from the 16th century

Today I had the pleasure of getting a quick look at an exciting object in the collections at Livrustkammaren. Here are therefore a few short observations that I noted and you must be forgiving since it’s far from a complete article. It is an object that is entered in the database as brigandine or as it is called in Swedish “liv-jacka” where liv means upper body. In short, this is a protective garment to wear on the upper body. The brigandine is constructed in one piece and buttoned at the side and over the shoulders.

The outer layer is a grass green silk velvet. Under this velvet fabric is a thin layer of goat or sheep skin and on the back of this, a large number of steel plates. These are overlapping and the entire inside of the brigandine is covered.

The edges are covered with strips of linen. The strips are cut at an angle, there may also be some straight cuts of the linen strips. The rivets are beaten through both the fabric and the leather and there appear to be leather washers under the rivet head on the front. However, these are today very small, either they have been damaged and fallen off or they have always been small, it is not possible to determine.

The tablet woven belt in silk is unusual for it’s time and has had patterned borders. 23 tablets are required to weave this.

The bottom part is incomplete and it’s difficult to know the original shape. According to the database the brigandine seems to be produced in Arboga, Sweden in the 1560-ies.

The brigandine is a fantastic object and I hope we have the opportunity to return to it and analyze it more carefully in the future.

It is also available to read about here:


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/ Maria

Advent calendar 2021 – 24 December

Our twenty-fourth and 2021’s last Advent calendar post 2021 is:

Silk fabric. This exclusive item was a long-distance import item for us up in the northern part of Europe. But still there are many goods just produced by Bombyx mori. Silk fabrics and silk yarns. Today we turn our attention to the silk fabrics. Silk fabrics can be woven in brocades with weft of gilded threads or only with silk thread as weft. The fabrics with silk and silk is the once we are looking at today.

These often appear as bottom fabric in various embroideries. They can be in different colors but also appear in natural white.

Here we can see a thin silk fabric as the base for an embroidery. The embroidery from Söderala church is today broken and little remains of the yellow fabric. The same goes for the embroidery with Holger Knutsson’s grave coverlet. Here the silk fabric is thin and in a green-blue shade. Söderala is dated to 1350- 1499 and Holger Knutssons fabric is dated to the same period.

Both embroideries can be found in the collections of the Swedish History museum.

Silk fabrics can be used for many things. If we look at how some fabrics are depicted in art, we can assume that silk fabrics have been used. A wavy veil could very well be made of silk. Like the one depicted in the Lutterell psalter. Or those depicted in sculptures, thin as paint. Like this one from Lincoln Cathedral. Here we can see the mouth marked under a very thin cloth. So thin that we suspect that the sculptor intended to show a silk fabric.

Text sources show that silk fabrics were used as banners on the battlefields as markers for various army commanders.

A thin hand hemmed fabric of silk can serve as: the bottom of an embroidery, a bottom fabric for painting a banner or as a wavy silk veil. Or for that matter – perhaps like a shawl in modern life.

We hope you have enjoyed our Christmas calendar this year. For those of you who have also bought the physical calendar, we hope that we have also offered some inspiration on what you can do with all the different yarns, fabrics, tools and necessities. Since we have received questions about how to buy next year’s calendar, the answer is: email us at historical.textiles@gmail.com if you want to know when we were going to release next year’s calendar.

Thank you to all 12,354 readers of Historical textiles Christmas calendar 2021! Merry Christmas!

/ Amica and Maria

Photos by: Historiska, British Library

Advent calendar 2021 – 23 December

Our twenty-third Advent calendar post 2021 is:

Bees wax. Sewing wax to be precise. It’s difficult to know people used sewing wax during the Middle ages, but a small lump of wax have been found at Läckö, Sweden. It’s both calming a charming to see that the historical person that once slid the linen thread over the wax created the same trace in the wax that we do today. This piece of wax shows in a wonderful way a contact with a human hand, even if the time elapsed is at least half a millennium.

The wax is from the collections of the Swedish History museum.

1- sorry for mixing days up for all you advent calendar people.
2- wax is an absolute necessity in the sewing box. Waxing linen thread before sewing starts is important so that the thread does not wear out more than necessary. That is why wax is very important in our sewing kit.

/ Amica and Maria

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Advent calendar 2021 – 22 December

Our twenty-second Advent calendar post 2021 is:

A lovely long legged cross stitch, again. Also this time the Fogdö wall hanging. Check out the boys in blue and green with a contour thread in blue linen. The wool thread is 2-plied.

The wall hanging is dated late 15th early 16 century and are from the collections of the Swedish History museum.

The wool thread is dyed with weld/reseda and over dyed with indigo or woad.

/ Amica and Maria

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Advent calendar 2021 – 21 December

Our twenty-first Advent calendar post 2021 is:

A mix of slightly different things with the common denominator “a thin two-plied wool thread”. First in our batch is a tablet woven band from Gotland. Dated 800-1100 AD. Today the band is exhibit in the new exhibition The viking world. The exhibition text says: “Tablet woven ribbon of wool with individual turns. Woven with a two-plied wool yarn where the thread’s high twist gives the pattern a certain depth. The ribbon is woven with twelve tablets. The two edge tablets on each side are threaded with four threads in each tablet, while the pattern tablets are only threaded with two threads in each. The lack of threads causes a relief pattern to occur during weaving. The pattern is obtained by turning the tablets individually so that the missing threads end up in a specific pattern. Width 0.8– 0.9 centimeters, preserved length 28 centimeters. This ribbon from Gotland differs from the ribbons found in Birka as the latter have silk in the warp and picked pattern elements in gold or silver thread. Part of depot finds “in pasture”, from Lilla Ringome, Alva parish, Gotland.”

The second find is a find that is interpreted as a cushion. Grave find from Birka, Bj739, Adelsö parish, Uppland.
Hhere we can see something as unusual as clear colors on an archeological textile. Both red-purple, blue-black and yellow. The weaving technique is tapestry and soumak. Dating 800-1100 AD

The last picture is from Lödöse. Here we can see a small piece of a finger loop braid. Made with two different colours on the wool yarn. Dated to 13-14century.

The viking age finds are from the collections of the Swedish History museum.

The 20/2 wool thread is versatile and can be used in many projects such as, tablet weaving, embroidery, sewing, braiding and more. It dyes really good and we always try to have a range of colours when working. The pigments we use are madder, cochineal as a kermes substitut, indigo and woad, birch, weld, tansy, walnut, gall apple. Together with alum, cream of tartar, iron and pH-modifier we can produce countless nuances.

/ Amica and Maria

Photos by: Historical Textiles CC-by please cred if sharing the pictures

Advent calendar 2021 – 20 December

Our twentieth Advent calendar post 2021 is:

Silk embroidery on linen or hemp fabric. From the latter part of the Middle Ages, there are several different embroideries with silk thread embroidered on a linen base. Here is a sudarium sewn in with double running stitch. Made by the Birgittin sisters in Vadstena, Sweden. We love the fact that one row of stitches seems like it was never finished… Bonus- a very cute silk band.

In the collections of the Swedish History museum.

We love silk on linen or hemp fabric. And double running stitch is very simple. Just follow the threads in the fabric and create your own cushion, handkerchief or purse.

/ Amica and Maria

Photos by: Ingela Wahlberg. First 3 and the second 2 Historical Textiles CC-by please cred if sharing the pictures

Advent calendar 2021 – 19 December

Our nineteenth Advent calendar post 2021 is:

Items sewn from linen or hemp cloth. There are countless things preserved to our day of just linen or hemp. Unfortunately, there are 10,000s of times more that have not been preserved to this day. But we know enough myclet to be able to say what these fabrics looked like. Linen and hemp are almost entirely woven in plain weave. In cases where they are woven in another technique, it is a twill variation. These are always for towels. Old towels can sometimes be found as, among other things, as embroidery bottom fabric.

Here we can see trust different mixed images. A mended knitted sock, a coif, a mended alba, a sudarium x 2, a chasuble and an appliqué M.

Linen and hemp are both bast fibers and are very difficult to distinguish with the naked eye only. They have the same characteristics. The fiber has high tensile strength but less good wear resistance. It gets stronger in the wet state. We use both linen and hemp in our reconstructions. A piece of 50 x 75 cm works well as a veil, or as an embroidery base, or as lining in a garment etc.

/ Amica and Maria

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Advent calendar 2021 – 18 December

Our eighteenth Advent calendar post 2021 is:

Long legged cross stitch in wool. From the embroideries Fogdö, Ramsele and Trönö, Sweden. They are all sewn with a 2-plied thread. Blue is almost always present in all medieval embroideries. Here we can see a backside from Fogdö and fronts on Trönö and the cute birds of Ramsele and a detail of their legs. They are all dated to 15th century. They bottom fabrics are a linen weave in basket weave.

All embroideries can be found in the collections of the Swedish History museum. 

We love how often blue is represented and therefore we always dye blue in various shades. Both light and dark is needed. We use indigo and woad.

/ Amica and Maria

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Bonus- check out the diffrent style and directions of the stitches.

Advent calendar 2021 – 17 December

Our seventeenth Advent calendar post 2021 is:

Gilt leather embroidery. These embroideries are as simple as they are ingenious. The same pattern shape is cut out of two different colored pieces of fabric. Most often, this is a mythological animal. Then the cut pieces change places and are sewn on with small whip stitches, edge to edge. A thin linen thread has been used for the medieval embroidery. A thin gilded leather strip is then sewn over the joining seam, also this one with whip stitches. Strips are also used for decorative elements on embroidery and of course applications, which we have already written about. Here ve can see two griffons from the Skepptuna coverlet. The animals are individually decorated.

The Skepptuna coverlet is C-14 dated to the latter part of the 15th century early 16th century. And can be found in the collections of the Swedish History museum.

When making embroideries you need to work with fulled wool fabrics to be able to make tiny stitches without fraying the edges since you work with basically 0 seam allowance. We like the Melton quality sold by Medeltidsmode. (scroll down) they offer a mix of colours. The white dyes very good if you are into plant dyeing. Even smaller pieces work good as a test piece. Why not make a fancy pin cushion or a purse when trying out the technique?

/ Amica and Maria

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